NY premiere of The Interview cancelled after hackers' terrorist threats

GoP hint at 9/11-style attack for screenings of Nork assassination movie

James Franco and Seth Rogen in The Interview

The New York premiere of Sony Pictures’ movie about a fictional assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un has been cancelled in the wake of hacker threats invoking 9/11.

The Interview was due to debut on Thursday at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan, but a spokesperson confirmed to Variety that the screening was off late on Tuesday, US time. There are rumours that other theatres are also pulling their showings, after a group calling itself Guardians of Peace (GOP) threatened anyone who attended.

Sony Pictures in the UK refused to comment when contacted by The Reg.

The threatening message was mixed in with further leaks of Sony files stolen from the systems by GOP. So far, the cyber criminals have released tens of gigabytes of sensitive information, including employee salaries and personal identity data, credit card numbers, movies and their scripts and email correspondence between executives that’s proved hugely embarrassing for the studio.

GOP warned that anyone who went to see The Interview, including at the premiere, would see “how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to”. The group also said “remember the 11th of September 2001”.

The film has already had its Los Angeles premiere, although it was comparatively low-key.

A Department of Homeland Security official told a number of US media outlets that it had “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theatres with the United States”, but that it was still analysing the credibility of GOP’s threats.

Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have also cancelled a number of media appearances promoting the movie on Tuesday and Wednesday. Rogen hadn’t made any mention of the threats or the premiere on his Twitter account and Franco’s only Twitter contribution was to refer to Aaron Sorkin’s op-ed in The New York Times about how media that published information from the Sony hack were “morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonourable”.

Sony in the US told Variety that the decision to pull screenings was down to individual cinemas, but said the studio was planning to go ahead with the nationwide rollout of the film on Christmas Day. The movie isn’t due to come out in the UK until early February.

Despite the apparent ire of GOP for The Interview, North Korea has denied responsibility for the hack of Sony Pictures’ systems, which has caused huge amounts of damage to the studio in the last few weeks.

The firm is still trying to recover its IT networks fully, while the FBI investigates the attack. Meanwhile, Sony staff are struggling to do their jobs on pen and paper while concerned about potential identity theft from the release of their private information.

Two former employees have already launched a class-action suit against the studio, claiming that it failed to adequately protect its networks despite known problems because it had made a business decision to accept the risk of hacking.

“An epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life, is unfolding in slow motion for Sony’s current and former employees: Their most sensitive data, including over 47,000 Social Security numbers, employment files including salaries, medical information, and anything else that their employer Sony touched, has been leaked to the public, and may even be in the hands of criminals,” they said in their filing. ®


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